Cambridge mathematics

Mathematics is a central part of our culture. It is also essential for science, technology, medicine, economics, and finance.

The light of mathematics has shone brightly in Cambridge for three centuries and more. Today, it burns undimmed. Twenty-six mathematical Fellows of the Royal Society work in Cambridge. It is a leading international centre for training high-flying research mathematicians, with Andrew Wiles, the conqueror of Fermat's Last Theorem (an enigma for over 300 years), as a recent notable example.

The University educates the largest number of mathematics undergraduates in the UK. Over 200 graduate annually, and go on to very varied careers, often in industry or business. The broad and deep Cambridge education in mathematics and its applications is an ideal preparation for solving the variety of difficult problems they meet throughout their working lives.

Cambridge research

Mathematics research in Cambridge has huge variety. There is a long and rich history in pure mathematics, which today is as strong as ever. The research spans a broad range of topics, from algebra and geometry to number theory and topology. The Statistical Laboratory is a world leader in research into problems related to engineering, financial services, science and technology. Fundamental work in theoretical physics investigates the deep inner structure of matter and the creation of the Universe. A fluid dynamics laboratory reinforces theoretical work with experiments on topics as diverse as oceanography, industrial pollution, and the investigation of fire risk in the Channel Tunnel.

Mathematical research has a vital impact on all our lives. A few examples of applications being studied in Cambridge are:

  • Medicine: blood flow, artificial ventilation of premature babies
  • Environment: prediction of weather and floods
  • Cryptology: design and testing of coding systems
  • Materials: properties of polymers, ceramics and powders
  • Biology: insect flight, fish and micro-organism swimming
  • Computing: design of computing languages

Links with Industry

The Faculty of Mathematics has many valuable links with industry, applying fundamental research to shed light on practical problems. For example, joint research with BT Laboratories has improved the routing of telephone calls around the world, and collaboration with Rolls Royce has reduced aircraft noise.

There are over 120 research contracts in operation at any one time. Partners include organisations such as the Health and Safety Executive, and major companies such as British Aerospace and Hitachi.

The Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences

The Institute gathers together some of the best brains in the world to work on extremely difficult problems which will have applications far into the future. They meet for periods of up to six months for intensive research and to exchange expertise. A very wide range of subjects is covered, for example financial mathematics, computer security, superstring theory, and the spread of diseases such as AIDS.

The Institute's building is the first one on the site designated for the Centre for Mathematical Sciences. Its pleasant and welcoming atmosphere promotes fruitful interaction among those who work in it. The other buildings that will follow on the site will similarly help to make the world-leading Faculty of Mathematics in the University of Cambridge yet more creative.